Oghenekaro Etebo’s Spanish club Getafe has refused to travel to Italy for their Europa League game against Inter Milan on Thursday over fears players and staff will contract coronavirus.
Italy which is currently grappling with an extensive coronavirus outbreak suspended all domestic sports events until 3 April, including Serie A matches, but Champions League and Europa League matches are not affected.
Inter Milan are due to host Getafe in the Europa League last 16, first leg in the San Siro on Thursday while Roma welcome Sevilla a week later.
However, Getafe president Angel Torres has said that “under no circumstances” will Etebo and his teammates be allowed to board a plane to Italy to honour the fixture “unless things change”.
Etebo joined the La Liga side on loan till the end of the season from English Championship side Stoke City.
“If we have to lose the tie, we will lose it,” Torres told Onda Cero radio.
“We have asked UEFA to look for an alternative to play in Milan. We don’t want to go into the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.
“Under no circumstances are we going to put our health at risk. Unless things change tomorrow, Getafe will not travel to Italy.”
Getafe’s position has also been echoed by Italian and Spanish professional players’ unions which issued a joint statement on Tuesday calling on UEFA to postpone matches between teams from the two countries.
“Playing a match in Milan in the coming days will endanger the health of many people,” the joint statement read.
“The journeys between Italy and Spain will become more complicated and dangerous in the coming weeks.
“Next week’s return matches are likely to be held under emergency conditions for the two countries.
“We hope that a deep reflection on all the calendars of European competitions will be made in the light of the information which is getting worse by the hour.”
Italy has been severely hit by the coronavirus and is the worst impacted country outside China where the virus originated.
The country imposed restrictions on movement for its 60 million citizens as it grapples to contain a disease which has killed 631, with 168 new deaths recorded on Tuesday, the country’s highest single-day toll, and infected more than 10,000.
Spain has more than 1,600 cases and 36 deaths.